Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Shift the pace into 2nd gear!

I’m taking a break from the sunny weather (well it’s coming to an end now) this summer to tell you about my experience with Shift 2 Unleashed. Last year EA moved the Need for Speed series into a more realistic genre, aiming at being a real competition for the Forza and Gran Turismo series. While the game was good, it left a little bland feeling and seemed to lack the charm of the two latter series. However there was a lot of potential in what we saw and in under a year we got the sequel!

Shift 2 Unleashed

Shift 2 seems to be moving away from the Need for Speed franchise title, an uninteresting detail you may say but thinking of the arcade nature of other NFS instalments this may be a quite clever move. EA wants Shift to be mentioned and recognised in the same sentence as Forza and GT, and actually they have made it with Shift 2!

The game starts off with an action packed night racing scene, where you quickly learn that the races in Shift 2 are aggressive and full of breath taking moments. You are then presented with an American Formula D driver who presents the game and explains all the things you need to know and how to get into your first race. The menus are easy to navigate and there are shortcuts like jumping straight to the car shop to get a car suited for the type of race you are about to take part in. The tuning screens should also be easy to use, even for people who have never done this in racing sims.

There are two things I really love about this game, first off it’s the sheer variation in race types, cars and locations. There are circuit races, drag races, drifting, city racing, even some Grand Canyon style races and really tight races on the docks in Tokyo. There are a bunch of racetypes and championships to join and the game quickly opens them up for you. This means that you can play the stuff you want to play, you don’t have to press yourself through endless circuit racing if you don’t want to! Yet it also makes you try the most of them out for the feel of them. There really is difference in driving American muscle around a countryside track to a drifting a high-tuned Japanese car around tight bends on an arena!

Combine this with the sheer variation and detail in circuits, with everything from real life circuits to famous city locations and then combine that again with the large amount of cars and car types. You simply will not get bored. Some of the tracks even are the same from the good old NFS ProStreet!

The second thing I really love about this game is the intense racing feeling. You really feel connected to the road, and you feel that the car is heavy and needs constantly to be manoeuvred and kept safe on the track. I absolutely love the cockpit view, in fact it’s the best one in the racing genre in my opinion. It moves a lot around and feels very dynamic. Here is the effect I love the most though; The game blurs the dashboard and surrounding edges of the screen when you reach very high speeds, which again give a great intensity and impression of speed. I love it!

All in all I really enjoyed Shift 2. It lets you try different racing genres, car types and gives you a really on-the-edge-of.-your-seat intensity while driving. You quickly get going, there are many championships to complete and the quality of the gameplay and graphics are outstanding. It’s right up there with the GT and Forza series!